Taeguk Ladies lose out on chance of EAFF E-1 Football Championship title
The Taeguk Ladies' dreams of winning their first EAFF E-1 Football Championship title since 2005 were dashed on Saturday after being held to a 1-1 draw against China at Kashima Football Stadium in Kashima, Japan.
After a 2-1 loss to Japan on July 17 and Saturday's draw against China, Korea is in third place with two points. Japan leads the scoring with two wins. Korea will be unable to trump Japan's six points even if they win their last match against Chinese Taipei and add three points.
After forward Choe Yu-ri opened the scoring in the 34th minute, Korea failed to hold on to the lead in the second half with Wang Linlin of China scoring the equalizer in the 76th minute.
Korea's first goal was a result of the Taeguk Ladies' teamwork at its best. Around the half-way line, Lee Young-ju found Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Cho So-hyun outside of the penalty box who set it up perfectly for Choe.
Choe kicked the ball past two defenders, slotting in a screamer from outside the box with her right foot beating the Chinese goalkeeper Zhu Yu to her left.
However, in the second half, Wang was able to score due to a scrambling Korean defense. Korean goalkeeper Yoon Yeung-geul tried to punch out the corner kick but the ball fell short giving a chance for Xiao Yu-yi to try an awkward shot that landed in front of Wang who easily pushed the ball past Yoon.
After the earlier loss to Japan, Korea has now conceded a total of three goals due to a weak defense.
On July 17, Japan opened the scoring capitalizing on a defending blunder from the Korean side as Shim Seo-yeon's attempt to clear the ball bounced off teammate Jang Sel-gi and found Japanese forward Yui Narumiya, who set it up perfectly for Miyazawa Hinanta to slot in to an open goal.
While former Chelsea midfielder Ji So-yun scored an equalizer in the second half, it was not enough to earn No. 18 Korea one point against No. 13 Japan. The hosts second goal also came from a weak defense. Fuka Nagano dribbled past the Korean defense, passing the ball to Riko Ueki who found a perfect chance to shoot from just inside the box past Korean goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi.
Against China on Saturday, Korea was looking not just for their first EAFF E-1 Football Championship win but also their first win against China in seven years. Korea last beat China 1-0 in a EAFF Championship match on August 1, 2015 when Korea finished runner-up.
"I tried very hard to score in every match and I am glad that I was able to score today," said Choe after the match on Saturday. "But I regret not scoring more when I had the chance.
"China is a physically strong and has a rough play style. We knew that well going into the match. Our head coach reminded us of that fact and so we tried to fight hard. I think that worked in a way."
With one loss and one draw, Korea currently stands in third place after Japan with two wins and China with one win and one draw.
Korea will next play their round-robin match against Chinese Taipei on July 26.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]